A few days ago, I posted something here about a group in San Francisco that has made it their mission to convert non-fruit-bearing trees on public land into ones that bear edible fruit. They call themselves guerilla grafters. I think it’s a great idea, but, some, it would seem, don’t share my enthusiasm for giving people the ability to feed themselves. Following is a comment left here on the site by someone calling herself Grape Ape.
There is edible fruit falling trampled all over Ypsi. Apples, truckloads of mulberries and walnuts, wild grapes (&leaves) and raspberries… the real money is in tapping our maples.
Grafting seems like a solution trying to anticipate a problem. But tree fruit is probably the easiest dietary supplement to supply. My grandfolk proved one healthy apple tree can provide a household with pretty near a year’s worth of sauce. Maybe we can graft edible arugula into edible dandelion leaves?
Until someone figures out how to graft processed wheat into crabgrass and bacon into my skin-tags, it just reads as a publicity statement.
Truth is, right now more fruit trees doesn’t equal less hunger, but more people running to Walgreen’s for rat-traps, sting ointment and sale priced Chef Boyardee (99 cents a can!).
That doesn’t make the video less cool or prophetic… just less real.
If anyone would like to graft, talk to me. I promise to supply you with the addresses of more locally neglected fruit and leaves than you can can and digest in a year.
Grafting is a great picture of what we can do. But, if I’d shot the video, I would’ve asked the grafters where they got their food.
For what it’s worth, the subject of rats was brought up by the guerilla grafters in the video that I posted earlier. According to them, they won’t graft a tree unless they’ve already got volunteers lined up to care for it, and ensure that its fruit isn’t left to rot, attract vermin, etc.
As for Grape Ape’s assertion that we grow more than enough fruit in Ypsilanti to feed our population of 20,000, I haven’t done a thorough study of the issue, but I can’t believe that it’s true. While there very well may be apples that can be seen rotting on the occasional tree, I’d argue that it has more to do with the fact that people don’t feel empowered to pick them, than it does their diets already being so incredibly apple-rich that they couldn’t possibly eat another. So, before setting out to destroy all of the fruit producing trees on public land, I’d suggest that we first try letting people know that the fruit on the trees is edible, and that picking it isn’t illegal. This, I’m thinking, could be accomplished easily enough with a few small signs saying…. “Hello, my Ypsilanti brother. Have an apple. And enjoy your day.” I think that would be incredibly cool.
While signs like this don’t yet exist, our friend Lisa Bashert, and others, have already started the process of marking fruit trees and berry bushes on a publicly available Google map. Here, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is a screen capture.
The page is maintained by Sustainable Ypsi, but, it’s open to the public, so feel free to add any relevant food-related resources that you’re aware of.
And let me know if you have skin tags, as I’d really like to try Grape Ape’s bacon-grafting idea. (If it works, I’m fairly confident that I could put Beezy’s out of business. I’d just walk around town with a small herd of shirtless people, crispy strips of delicious free-range bacon dangling from their moles, armpits and assorted fleshy growths, allowing people to pick their own for a dollar a piece.)
Speaking of grafting, in the comments section following that last thread on the subject, our friend Doug Skinner passed along a brilliant piece of silent film starring the recently rediscovered surrealist filmmaker Charley Bowers. Here’s his 1926 film Now You Tell One. If you’d like to just see the part on grafting, you can jump ahead to the 5:37 mark. Trust me when I say that it’s worth it. I think it’s one of the most lovely things I’ve seen in years.